As well as Bill and Pascal, Jo and Phil went along to Monday's Science Cafe. Jo and Phil work for a pharmaceuticals company, so phrases like 'recombinant DNA' hold no fear for them!
The subject covers the spectrum from taking the basic molecules of life and using new variants to do new things, to using existing DNA and recombining it in different ways.
The speaker quoted Richard Feynman saying something like, 'to really understand an idea, you have to use it to build something'. So the lab is trying to understand biology by using it to build something new.
There's something that offends the religious in creating life. It's as though being able to create life is either an affront to God, or somehow shows that he doesn't exist. Creating life is nothing new, women have been doing it for years!